Electronic complexity in automobiles has increased rapidly, making testing these electronic sub-assemblies challenging. At Pickering, we understand these challenges—since 1988, we have been designing and manufacturing commercial PXI, PCI, LXI and USB switching systems and sensor simulation for automotive test applications. These applications range from simple body controllers, ABS brake modules, dashboard testing, transmission control, airbag squibs, engine management units, automotive networks and BMS testing to active safety and infotainment systems.

Pickering Interfaces Understands Automotive Testing Challenges

Our capabilities and expertise are the reasons why major automotive companies including TRW, Delphi, Lear, BMW, Tesla, Caterpillar, Magneti Marelli, Robert Bosch, Renault, Peugeot, Siemens, Continental Automotive, Johnson Controls and many more specify our PXI, PCI, LXI & USB switching and sensor simulation products for automotive functional test. We have developed several modules optimized for the automotive electronics industry, and we are focused on ways to make Electronic Control Unit (ECU) testing easier, faster and more reliable.  Have an application that you need help with? Please get in touch with us to discuss it in detail. 

View a few of our automotive success stories here

Below are some areas where our switching and simulation solutions can be used for electronic test and verification.

Automotive ECU Testing

ECU Testing

All ECUs, from simple body controllers to Engine Management Units (EMUs), need signal switching and sensor emulation for adequate testing. Switching can be high current for motor control and low level for control functions. Temperature and altitude sensors are resistive in nature and are easily emulated for test applications. As Gasoline-powered vehicles move toward a 42 V power platform, higher voltage switching needs to be selected. With electric vehicles, 400 to 600 V may be prevalent on ECUs.

Hardware-in-the-Loop Testing

Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) Simulation

HILS can simulate an ECU's reaction to external fault conditions such as a broken wire or a faulty temperature sensor, giving you the power to thoroughly test the ECU in a virtual environment before proceeding to production level testing. Using our Fault Insertion switch modules, all possible electrical short and open circuits are simulated, erroneous sensor data is applied, and the ECU reaction is captured to see if the design works as defined. You can cost-effectively achieve greater reliability, no matter how complex the system being tested has become. 

Modular Breakout System for HIL SimulationOur HILS products include:
For high-speed impedance matched applications, such as automotive networking, we feature specially designed modules such as our PXI and PCI fault insertion switch modules (models 40-200/201 and 50-200/201respectively) that offer the ability to simulate faults on commonly used differential serial interfaces. These modules are just a small part of our broad range of fault insertion switches designed for testing the response of safety-critical communication systems used in automotive environments.

  Sensor emulation

Sensor and Strain Gauge Simulation

The ability to simulate the resistive nature of many environmental sensors in the engine compartment and vehicle cabin is essential for EMU and Body Controller test. When testing ECUs that control airbags, being able to simulate vehicle accelerometers allows the test to verify if the squibs will fire correctly. Pickering has the most extensive range of programmable resistor solutions, in both PXI and PCI formats, featuring down to 2mΩ resolution on multiple channels with accuracies as high as 0.03%. We also offer the only strain gauge emulators in both PXI and PCI—now, you can easily incorporate strain gauge tests on safety-related ECUs.

Electric Vehicle Battery Management Systems Test

Electric Vehicle Battery Management Systems (BMS) Test

With the increasing adoption of electric propulsion systems in road vehicles, one of the significant challenges to be tackled is the effective testing of the Battery Management Systems (BMS). To facilitate BMS testing, our PXI/PXIe multi-cell battery emulator range (model 41/43-752) is ideal for battery stack emulation with the advantage of a modular and scalable platform. These modules enable direct voltage and current readback programmatically or using our soft panel control. Combine these modules with our other switch and simulation modules to make a flexible PXI-based BMS test system - this can include temperature measurement, fault insertion, RTD simulation and more.

  Environmental Testing for Automotive

Environmental Testing

Testing multiple ECUs in an environmental chamber requires the sharing of external instrumentation and resources to stimulate and collect data from the ECUs over the test cycles. Our BRIC high-density switching matrices can provide over 6144 cross-points in eight PXI slots, ranging in sizes from 4 to 32 rows and 10 to 1104 columns. The BRIC’s IVI-compliant drivers make it a simple task to integrate into software packages such as our Switch Path Manager signal routing software and National Instruments’ Switch Executive. In addition, our line of solid-state multiplexers and matrices have virtually infinite switch life, making them ideal for extremely long environmental testing. If you prefer an LXI (Ethernet) or USB interface, over 1,000 of our PXI modules (including the BRIC matrices) can be used in our LXI modular chassis. We also offer our high-density LXI matrices (60-55X family and 65-22x family), which have the same functionality as the BRICs and can be operated via an Ethernet connection.


Instrumentation Management

Whether you are testing low-frequency audio channels, Spark Coil Firing Patterns, MOST Fiber channels or the latest satellite radios—we offer signal switching modules that address each application. SPST relays, multi-pole multiplexers, or cross-point matrices are available with voltages up to 1000 VDC and bandwidths up to 67GHz, as well as fiber optic switching.

  Signal Conditioning

Signal Conditioning

Most PXI instruments lack the range needed to generate or capture data to test ECUs. For example, signal or arbitrary waveform generators lack the amplitude necessary to drive signals that simulate peripherals such as the camshaft and ABS wheel sensors, and digitizers cannot adequately capture the primary input of a spark plug coil during discharge. Our high voltage amplifiers (model 41-650) feature multi-channel, gain selectable amplifiers that work with many instruments, including our function generator (model 41-620). Our  high voltage attenuator (model 41-660) features selectable input ranges that accept up to 600-volt waveforms.

RF & Microwave Switching for Automotive Test

RF and Microwave Switching

The increasing feature sets of automobiles often require the use of RF components. Features such as Bluetooth, video, adaptive cruise control and 5G for autonomous vehicles call for RF and Microwave switching in test. We offer  RF solutions ranging from 500 MHz to 67 GHz so that we can address the vast majority of your RF and Microwave applications with our standard offerings.

Switch Simulation for Automotive Test

Switch Simulation

When testing body controllers, an important test is to see if the inputs respond to dirty switches and do not present a normal open/closed resistance. Our automotive switch simulation module (model 40-480) is designed to simulate the operation of up to 32 automotive switches where dirty contacts or leaking current can be expected from switch contamination brought on by age. The switch simulation allows automotive I/O devices to be tested for correct operation under adverse conditions.

Automotive Load Management

Automotive Load Management

Testing ECUs such as body controllers, ABS, electric power steering and transmission control requires the connection of high current loads to the Unit Under Test (UUT). We provide a wide range of PXI switch modules that can support up to 40 Amp load switching within a PXI chassis. For higher current requirements, our PXI digital I/O and relay driver modules (models 40-410, 411, 412) let the test system control relays that are not easily supported within the PXI chassis. In addition, our PXI load resistor modules (40-292) provide programmable loads up to 15 watts within our PXI and LXI/USB modular chassis. Also, our LXI high power matrix (model 60-600) can switch 10 Amps across up to 64 channels.

Providing the switching and instrumentation modules for automotive testing is not enough; you need fast and effective ways of connecting your investment to the device under test. All of our switching modules are supported by a comprehensive range of connector and cable accessories.

Challenge us to solve your automotive application problems

With our technology and long-term expertise in automotive test, we have your automotive needs covered. Considering the broad range of switching and simulation products in our catalog, it is no wonder most major automotive electronics manufacturers specify Pickering for their test systems. Challenge us to solve your automotive test application problems - please get in touch with us to discuss your application in detail.

Success Stories

Automotive industry success with Pickering

How does our commitment to quality in product & service translate into project success & customer satisfaction

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Modular PXI Products Chosen for Automotive ECU Fault Insertion

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